Iran FM says US chemical weapons accusations ‘dangerous’

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday said that US accusations that Tehran has a chemical weapons program were “obscene and dangerous”.

The US allegations are the latest salvo against Iran from the administration of President Donald Trump, who earlier this year pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran and reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions.

“(The) US wants to resort to international conventions to make allegations against Iran when it’s made a policy of violating them itself,” Zarif said in a tweet.

He said that allegations about weapons of mass destruction “by a country that supported Iraq’s use of CW (chemical weapons) against Iran, then invaded Iraq to allegedly rid it of them is not just obscene, it’s dangerous”.

Earlier on Friday the Iranian foreign ministry said Tehran “strongly rejects” the US accusations.

“The United States… has made, as is its habit, baseless accusations against the Islamic republic which we strongly reject,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Such incorrect and false accusations are due solely to enmity towards the Iranian nation and are intended to deflect international attention from its own broken commitments and continued support for the Zionist regime’s chemical arsenal and for terrorist groups.”

The US accused Iran on Thursday of failing to declare a chemical weapons program to the global watchdog in breach of international agreements.

US envoy Kenneth Ward told the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague that Tehran was also seeking deadly nerve agents for offensive purposes.

(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran has accused the US of being the “only member state that has a chemical weapons arsenal and has, until now, not acted on its obligations to destroy it”.

Iran is one of the few countries that has been attacked with chemical weapons since the end of World War I in 1918.

Chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during its 1980-88 war with Iran killed and wounded tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers and civilians.

Iran has expressed strong opposition ever since to the use or possession of chemical weapons by any country.

-Saving the nuclear deal-

Zarif, who is in Italy for a conference, on Friday also expressed his frustration with the European Union’s delay to come up with means of allowing EU trade with Tehran despite US sanctions.

“(The) EU needs to make a decision: does it want the US to dictate its relations with others…?” he asked in a tweet.

The nuclear deal “was in the interest of the security of Europe (which) now needs to invest in that security.” he added.

Although the European Union has vowed to create a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) to protect companies buying oil, analysts see little chance that firms will risk US penalties by using it.

Mohammad Berno (Iranian Presidency/AFP)

France, Britain and Germany have all expressed a willingness to save the nuclear deal, despite Trump’s warning not to defy US policy on Iran.

Russia, which along with Iran is supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, is also interested in salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Trump administration is currently attempting to coerce Tehran into changing its regional behavior as a prerequisite for renegotiating a nuclear deal.

The Trump administration has previously listed twelve things Iran must to in order to strike a new deal with Washington.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed the demands shortly after Trump announced the withdrawal from the deal.

If Iran does not bend to the demands, Pompeo said, the US will crush its military presence abroad and strangle its economy at home.

One of the demands, backed by Israel and Saudi Arabia, is that Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country as well as stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shares Washington’s skepticism towards Tehran, and often applauds Trump for withdrawing from the deal.

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel consider Iran the biggest threat to regional stability.